I was blessed to connect with Tony Robbins via his holiday message. He suggested that I go to his Power of Crisis website (http://www.thepowerofcrisis.com/) and answer the five questions to bring hope and inspiration to others. Here are the answers to his five questions:
What was your life like right before the crisis hit?
I was working at the VA as a social worker with a very successful career – received several awards including social worker of the year; I was raising twins, supporting my husband and managing our home – I was basically a 'supermom'.
What was the crisis you faced? What happened, and when it did, what did you feel and experience?
Beginning in 1996, I began to experience symptoms of feeling lousy, muscle weakness, fatigue, chronic pain and when I talked to my primary care provider about the possibility that I could be experiencing post polio syndrome, he was very dismissive, stating that diagnosis did not exist. He prescribed exercises and told me I needed to forget about it. He ran tests and declared me perfectly healthy. Finally, in the summer of 2006, I felt as though I could not go on living my life the way I was feeling. I had a constant lump in my throat, I had shortness of breath, tremors, tingling down my right arm and numbness in my face, I had difficulty climbing the stairs in our home and couldn't sleep at night; I had difficulty getting out of bed every morning but went to work, put a smile on my face and tried to help my patients. I would often close my office door and cry in between patients feeling so frightened and alone and not knowing what was happening to me. As a medical social worker, I had ruled out that I was experiencing a heart attack or a stroke and knew I did not need to go to the Emergency Room, but I knew something was very wrong with me. When I went for my annual physical in September of 2006, I was in a panic state and so my doctor gave me paxil for my symptoms and told me to see a psychiatrist. In all fairness to him, I did share with him that I was a survivor of childhood trauma and wondered if this was a part of the physical symptoms but I also told him I thought there was something physically wrong with me. After doing a physical, he declared me perfectly healthy. I was feeling depressed, despondent, angry and frustrated and had no idea how I was going to find my way out of the darkness.
What pulled you through this difficult, unjust or impossible time? What was the trigger or catalyst for change? What is a belief, a strategy, a person, a faith, a tool? What made the change possible?
I flushed the paxil down the toilet and saw in our church bulletin that Rev Leslie Sterling was starting a Gospel Highlights group. She had a most unique approach to bible study overflowing with love and compassion. There was a crack of light coming into the darkness as I realized I needed to open up myself again to God. After all, I experienced a vision of God when I was five years old after contracting paralytic polio and God guided me through a horrific childhood so it was time to pray and to LISTEN! In October 2006, as I sat my laptop feeling as though I could not live another day, God suggested I google post polio syndrome, and lo and behold, The Spaulding Rehab Hospital's International Rehab Center for Polio was 30 minutes away from where I live. My first phone call to the center was answered by an angel, Anna Rubin who spent 45 minutes talking with me about what I was experiencing. She sent me a packet to fill out prior to my first appointment and a book about post polio syndrome. The diagnosis did indeed exist and it accounted for many of the symptoms I was experiencing. The physiatrist ordered an MRI of my cervical spine and the tingling and numbness and pain on the right side of my face and arm were all due to a disc/nerve impingement. I was immediately referred for trigger injections. I began intensive outpatient rehab and the staff at Spaulding urged me to consider quitting my full time job because of how it was contributing to my physical symptoms. I could go on disability. At this time, a friend of mine suggested I read Conversations with God and watch The Secret. I also found my way back to the words and wisdom of Dr. Bernie Siegel and began to immerse myself in a course of healing my life. In February 2007, as I sat in a leg brace, shivering from the cold, using a cane and at times a wheelchair for mobility, I wrote the poem, “Running the Race”. I had enjoyed writing customized poetry for friends and family and everyone told me I had such a gift but I never gave much thought to my gift ... until now. The poetry began to flow out of me, and as I opened myself to God a new path began to appear before me and events converged which resulted in me becoming a published author and creating my own customized poetry company.
Once you turned the corner mentally or emotionally, what did you do to turn your life around?
I took a leap of faith and quit my full time job as a social worker. I set out to recover from a grueling routine of getting up at 5:30 am and living my life only for others. I journaled, meditated, visualized, prayed, listened to Tony Robbins CD's, Bernie Siegel's Meditation CD's, read Wayne Dyer's books and found incredible bliss and joy in writing poetry. I also decided I wanted to give back to Spaulding and met with the Development Office to talk about donating 20% of the proceeds of the sale of my book to Spaulding. And then, in October 2007, I hired my friend, a personal trainer, to see what else we could do to help this body to heal and recover. Those first training sessions were brutal and the physical pain I experienced was intense but I was no stranger to pain and knew that I wanted to keep on going to achieve a level of health and fitness I had never experienced in my life. And in February 2008, when my trainer asked me what my next goals were, tears flowed as God spoke through my core and I said, I want to run the Race for Rehab for Spaulding Rehab – the Boston Marathon to raise monies for Spaulding. I traded in my polio shoes for a pair of running shoes and now we are up to 15 miles on our long training runs. I am achieving a level of health and fitness in mind, body and spirit and feeling such love and gratitude for every day.
How is your life better today because you lived through this crisis? How have you transformed? How are you stronger physically, emotionally and spiritually? What gifts do you have to give because of this?
The greatest gift I have to give is the gift of giving back to Spaulding Rehab for all the help I received as I took those first steps on my healing journey. My book is received with rave reviews from my readers and what a joy to donate 20% to Spaulding. I am fund raising – something I have never done before which brings such joy. My business is taking off. Gratitude and love are the sources of fuel that I put in my tank to drive me forward in joy every day. I am a better mother, wife and friend. I bring such joy to others through my poetry either through my book or through the customized poetry I create for them. And I am inspiring people who are struggling with physical challenges. What a blessing to receive emails from other polio survivors who now have hope that post polio syndrome is not a death sentence and how, through releasing the anger and depression, life can be healed. People who I meet tell me that I light up the room and when they hear my story, are so deeply touched by my journey. Through fund raising, we are bringing communities together for a common goal – to provide financial support to a remarkable facility which promotes independence, integrity, hope and renewal after people experience a physical trauma. I am having a love fest with life and it is glorious. I am told I am infectious – what a blessing to be infectious with joy, love and God's spirit shining through rather than people avoiding me/fearing me because I had been infectious with polio. I have also discovered a strength – physical, mental and spiritual that I did not know I possessed until I challenged myself with training for the Boston Marathon. And I discovered how much love there is in my family. We all work together as a team – my husband, daughter and I are training together and my son helps us with household chores on weekends. After our long runs, we need all the help we can get .:) I have the gifts of faith, courage, determination, love, and passion and I am a shining example of how, when you live your life with God, all things are indeed possible!